National Identity and Citizenship Issues

Identity can be said to have very close relationship with citizenship and culture; the latter being the most important factor that aids in the construction of the identity of a given person since it gives him/her a sense of belonging (Levine & Campbell, 1997). Immigrants for instance fail to identify themselves with their new environments because the natives may not be willing to accept them even if they have qualifications for some given jobs which they are looking for (Smith, 2003). They are seen as ‘stealing’ jobs meant for the natives.

Citizenship and identity are thus of great importance today the world over since every individual wants to be identified with and accepted by a given group so as to access the privileges that go with this acceptance (Smith, 2003). This paper seeks to examine identity as a term and all the possible areas of application as well as giving the view of the minority on identity issues. Introduction Identity is a broad term that may be used to connote to a variety of issues like a person’s genealogy, physique, beliefs and culture among others.

The issue of identity can be discussed in two levels or perspectives: social and personal perspectives. In social perspective, identity it is the tag that a group of people is identified or distinguished with and helps in the decision of the membership as well as the features of the group (Crick, 2008). This means that views such as those of economic, political, religious among others are the parameters in which we identify a group. On the personal perspective, it refers to the attributes with which a person likes to be identified with in the eyes of a group.

These attributes can be natural-where the individual is born with for instance ethnicity or skin color or acquired for instance religion which somebody can change as he/she grows. Therefore, identity can be defined as the concepts of people of who they are and how they relate with others (Crick, 2008). This definition includes race, religion, ethnicity and culture- language being part of it among others. Drawing from the definition above, National identity can be defined as that condition whereby a large number of people have acquired the same identification with some national symbols that they have internalized.

This makes them have an allegiance to the shared norms and values in a given country (Smith, 2003). Sources of identity Every mature person develops identity as an important part of his/her being. People therefore have unique identifications such as being a man or a woman, a Muslim or a Catholic which are broad in nature or narrow ones such as belonging to a certain family. There can be also identities extended to members of a given country or ethnic group such that when one person in the groups is faulted those sharing such an identity feel bitter.

Same- identity people sometimes sacrifice their lives so as to keep their identity preserved as seen in extremist groups. Identity can be sourced from experiences and traits of a given people for example race which can be seen in the color of one’s skin or religious affiliations which are observable from what one actually does (Crick, 2008). In America, identity related to race was dichotomized into white and black even when someone had some element of one race say black over several generations past (Smith, 2003).

This implies that one cannot change such an identity even if he/she is a black who can pass for a white due to mixed-race genealogy. In Mexico however, an Indian can become a Mestizo if he/she speaks Spanish or wears cloths of western make. Some aspects of identity such as the language that one speaks, their religion, the food they eat or the clothing they wear can be changed hence have the status of being acquired while others like skin color, the parents’ religion and where one is born are fixed during one’s birth (Crick, 2008).

Identity is best described based on values and beliefs that are shared by a group and not their ascribed characters. These are just some of the ways through which a person can acquire a given identity. Issues of identity that interest me These issues range from those that are race related, religious, ethnic, generational and class-based among others (Smith, 2003). These are not the only issues of identity and/or citizenship that are there, there are a myriad of others which include the personal traits, familial or genealogical ones and so on, the list is long.

Those that cut across the social, political and economic divides have been singled as the ones of immense concern. In the West, the race issue has taken a central role in determining how the people from the different races relate to each other, how one race views the other and what that race expects of the other in the social, political and economic areas (Crick, 2008). Africans who first set foot in the American soil for instance, have their own social groupings separate from the whites even long after the slavery that took many of them there ended.

The place of an African- American is to some extent still a lower one, years after many have been born and brought up in every American way. The defining thing is all in their skin color, the white having supremacy, which as a matter of fact existed before the end of slavery. The all- inclusive society has however given both the white and the black an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams and get other identities that put the whites and the blacks together.

However, some people still think that the whites are superior to the blacks thus creating a boundary between what the blacks can be expected to attain in the social, political and to some extent economic realms (Crick, 2008). Victimization of the blacks or immigrants has been witnessed in the developed world especially in the U. S whereby they are discriminated against and oppressed which tend to make them mistrustful and feel threatened. They fear to be attacked resorting into perpetuation of struggles that give them a cushioning against the threats (Isaacs, 1999).

Of interest in race identity is the fact that there is the likelihood of conflict as one group tries to assert itself more than the other or impose its ideologies on other groups (Levine & Campbell, 1997). The case of the violent imposition of the Nazi characterization on what and who the Jews were, is but a reminder that conflict can be rife if a race considering itself to be powerful tries to assert its supremacy on the ‘weaker’ one (Little, 2004) . Immigrants can have different feelings as far as citizenship issues are concerned.

For example, before the oil crisis in Australia, migrants had to have citizenship of Australia when they were ferried to work there. However, the crisis necessitated the sourcing of migrants from a variety of countries thereby making the majority of them not from the British Isles. This made the merging of the values that happened in the case of British migrants to dwindle. The newcomers did not want to transfer their allegiance to the new land and give up their original identity. They retained it and therefore saw themselves as others and not Australians.

A state of syncretism of culture where both the immigrant and the emigrant spoke at the same platform was thus established (Isaacs, 1999). The advancement in Information Communication and Technology has seen migration across nations which has made the migrants’ identity to be complicated since they have to have some elements that enable them to live in the new country and at the same time they are linked by ICT to their homelands (Isaacs, 1999). They maintain personal as well as mass communication with the members from their countries of origin making them belong to more than one spheres of identity.

The difference lies in the level of allegiance they have for either of the two public life spheres. The question remains to be: what exactly is citizenship all about, whether the immigrants are temporarily staying in a country or they are permanent due to economic or political reasons? Americanization of the immigrants in America was an attempt to make them more acceptable in the eyes of the natives in the 19th century leading to the teaching of Americanism as a sort of civic secular religion.

In Britain, the acceptance of diversity has not been a fully accepted policy. The black immigrants in this case are somewhat lost unlike in America where we have black Americans the reason being there is hardly such a term as “Black Englishmen/Englishwomen” which the black migrants use to refer to themselves. The blacks in Britain identify themselves with the crown and not the Britishness, which they view as a form of culture, sharing goals and purposes (Isaacs, 1999).

c12ecnn4i5)0i0d/sf. 81 8s . ELa4g0line) There has been the issue of accommodation of minority groups after their immigration in what was called multiculturalism (Little, 2004). This led to the Muslims in Britain and the world over to ask re-establish who they really are and start the quest of living happily even in the West. The emergence of an identity movement of British Muslims was informed by the plight that their counterparts world over were going through.

The views that the non-Muslims hold about the Muslims are centered on the terrorism issues while the Muslims, faced with immense discrimination, work on asserting themselves and their identity that it is possible to live a happy life as Muslims (Little, 2004). Methods that can be used to study these issues Methods refer to the processes that one follows in collecting information while all the aspects of their implementation are collectively called methodology (Aronson, 1996). National identity or citizenship issues such as gender, race, and religion, among others can be gathered by use of various research methods.

The most direct way of coming by the information that one needs is via observation whereby the attachments of an identified lot or randomly selected lot are observed so as to arrive at an informed opinion of how they would like to be identified. The observation can be done using sophisticated mounting observational tools or conducted in a participatory manner (Aronson, 1996). In the latter case, the target group is observed without rising of any suspicion as the researcher will be well camouflaged in the group, doing what the target group is doing

Sampling is another popular method where a certain group is identified and either of the two sampling methods; questionnaires or interview is conducted. Sampling can be probabilistic or not. In the former, a simple random survey is done and each individual member in the sample can be selected while in the latter, a representation of a larger sample is selected hence making it more objective. In the case of interview, an identified person or group of persons is asked questions while the interviewer records their responses.

The method may not be the best if the group to be interviewed is large or if the issue of interviewer is sensitive, an aspect that can lead to withholding of information (Aronson, 1996). However, for the sake of the identity issues survey or any other for that matter, the respondents are able to get the questions clearly thus respond appropriately. Questionnaires can also be used in a given target area that has the races or any other groups identified as convenient for the study.

The questions need to be structured in such a way that the respondents say how close they feel towards their countries, ethnic backgrounds, arts, sports politics, history among others that will assist in understanding their identity (Isaacs, 2008). The queries can also probe the respondents on some international relations matters, education in foreign languages, diplomacy, and acquisition of property such as land in the country by foreigners, movies and television programs from some given countries to mention but a few.

To know more about their view of nationality, they can be asked to assess how their country treats immigrants and other people from minority groups (Isaacs, 1999). They can also handle the questions on how their feelings towards the impacts that immigrants have on crime, the job market, the country’s economy and the whole process of citizenship. This study can be done in a cross sectional manner and repeated to enhance dependability. The variables in the study would be the level of education, the gender, fluency in given languages, religion, citizenship, income, ethnicity among others.

This will ensure a well represented study across races, gender, beliefs and so on thus improving the dependability of the results (Aronson, 1996). Research studies that used this method were conducted in several countries between 1994 (November) and June of 1996. Such countries included Germany, United States, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Japan and Australia among others, totaling to 24 (Aronson, 1996). Questionnaire administration is cheaper than interviews thus better for a large sample of respondents who can be in different geographical locations.

Sensitive issues can be posted using this method. The response can however be low because many respondents might not answer the questions and even those who answer them may give diverse responses on the same questions. This is because there is a likelihood of ambiguity in the questions since the respondents might interpret the questions in varied manner. For a successful study therefore both methods can be used, each in a different part of the study sample (Aronson, 1996). Experiments and Part experiments can also be used in the study.

Experiments generally refer to the studies where the researcher examines how one class variable affects another, basically the dependent and independent variables (Aronson, 1996). Experiments involve the individuals or groups that one wants to study and try to establish the relationship between the environment they come and the traits that are being sought in the individuals or group. Self-research method can also be applied a kind of study where the respondent is required to answer questions on their beliefs, religion, political views among others directly.

The method is cheap and easy in addition to being quick (Aronson, 1996). Conclusion This paper has discussed the issue of identity and nationalism extensively by first bringing to fore the fact identity is a broad term that cannot be argued to imply some aspects while leaving out others. It entails the individual and his/ her unique traits and also a group and its values, beliefs, religion politics and so on. How the minority tries to find acceptance in a new land has also been highlighted.

The multiculturalism issue sprouts from this quest since it brings to fore a group that identifies with two diverse cultures and cannot forego one for the other. Further, the paper has exposed how the immigrants are viewed by the natives and how they feel about themselves in a new environment. These are some of the issues of interest in national identity and citizenship. How to go about the identity and/or citizenship issues has also been discussed and the methods weighted on their effectiveness in different situations.


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